The Oxford Handbook of Language and Law

[The Oxford Handbook of Language & Law]

Publication details

Chapter 5 (of 40)
on pages 67 - 83

The Plain Language Movement


The Oxford Handbook of Language and Law

Oxford University Press
edited by
Peter Tiersma & Lawrence Solan
Hardback (2012)
xxi and 642 pages
255 mm x 177 mm
ISBN 978-0-19-957212-0

Ebook (for libraries) (2014)
Paperback (with minor updates) (2015)

I am sad to report that Peter Tiersma died on 13 April 2014. He beat leukemia in the 1990s and again continued working while bravely playing down a devastating diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in 2012. His university's obituary is at Loyola tribute.

Publisher's summary of the book

This book provides a state-of-the-art account of past and current research in the interface between linguistics and law. It outlines the range of legal areas in which linguistics plays an increasing role and describes the tools and approaches used by linguists and lawyers in this vibrant new field. Through a combination of overview chapters, case studies, and theoretical descriptions, the volume addresses areas such as the history and structure of legal languages, its meaning and interpretation, multilingualism and language rights, courtroom discourse, forensic identification, intellectual property and linguistics, and legal translation and interpretation.

Encyclopedic in scope, the handbook includes chapters written by experts from every continent who are familiar with linguistic issues that arise in diverse legal systems, including both civil and common law jurisdictions, mixed systems like that of China, and the emerging law of the European Union.

Readership: Law scholars and linguists, as well as academics and practitioners from neighbouring areas such as psychology, sociology, language translation, and language planning.


Book contents (opening in a separate window)
My chapter sections

  1. What is plain language?
  2. A very brief history of the plain legal language movement
  3. Who is involved in the movement?
  4. Advantages and disadvantages of plain legal language
  5. Attitudes to plain legal language
  6. Plain language drafting techniques
  7. An example of traditional writing made plain
  8. Conclusion


Improving the rewritetabadded 11.2.13
Full disclosure: The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?tabadded 1.4.13

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